A Matter of Perception

I promise I will have a vacation recap for you, but it won’t be until Monday so that I can have time over the weekend to organize the 1036514567 pictures and write out everything that filled up our 5 days (mainly eat, read, sleep, repeat).

The idea for today’s post didn’t come together until yesterday.

Last week, while looking through old posts for a specific picture, I took time to read through some of them. In a recap of hiking the C & O Canal, I found a picture of myself that caught me off guard.

running

At just about every point in my teenage and adult life, I’ve disliked something about my body. Disregarding the times when I was actively in the middle of addiction or disordered eating habits, and therefore obviously not clear-headed, I have still found something to complain about.

When that picture was taken, I was exclusively running. I had discovered my love of it during that time and was running a normal amount. I was also eating well and wasn’t concerning myself with every piece of food I was putting in my mouth. I made chicken and squash and every other healthy thing you can think of, while still enjoying flourless chocolate cupcakes from a local bakery.

Looking back on pictures of myself when I was running, I was obviously thinner. My body was adapting to running miles at a time without a consistent strength plan. I wasn’t unhealthy physically, but I can recall moments of wishing I was thinner or singling out a part of myself that I wished I could change. I wasn’t running because I hated my body (as I had done in the past), but I can still remember not being quite satisfied with the way it looked.

While on vacation this past weekend, Neil took this picture of me.

Punta Cana

When I first saw it, I was impressed with how strong I looked. I contrasted it with the picture I had seen of myself not a week before and realized that my body has undergone a lot of changes throughout the years. There have been unhealthy changes and changes simply based on which type of exercise I feel drawn to at a given time.

It’s crazy to me that during my running years I didn’t feel particularly thin, whereas I look at that picture now and think that I look slightly too thin for my body type. It’s one of those “grass is always greener” moments and it hit me that no matter where I’ve been in my journey, at some point it still doesn’t feel like enough. When I was thinner and running, it wasn’t quite where I wanted to be and now when Neil tells me my arms are bigger than his, I wonder if that’s something I should fix as well.

It’s unfortunate that as a society we have been conditioned to focus in on the flaws and strive for an unrealistic ideal. It’s frustrating that no matter how much better I get mentally and emotionally, there are disparaging thoughts that come first and their corrections second.

A lot of my “awakenings,” if you will, happen when I reach a sort of breaking point. When I hit bottom in my addiction, when I exhausted myself by worrying what everyone else thought, and when I simply got tired of allowing others to treat me the way I knew I didn’t deserve to be treated.

My point with all of this is to question how you can be truly happy if you’re ALWAYS wishing you could change something about who you are. I’ve certainly come a long way in terms of self-acceptance, but there will always be work to do, just on a smaller scale. It’s not tackling the “you’re enough as a human being” problem anymore, but more of a daily “do your best and that’s all that matters” issue.

I want to work on getting to a place where I don’t have the negative thoughts first and the positive ones second. I am striving for immediate acceptance because I’ve learned throughout many years that wishing for something different takes you out of the moment and puts you in a weird future where you don’t actually exist and you probably won’t accept if you even get there.

It’s all about perspective and it’s time to shift that perspective to today. Be grateful for what you have NOW. Be happy with who you are today.

Don’t lose sight of your goals, but make sure they are realistic and certainly don’t live there.

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.

Questions:

  • How successful are you at living in the moment?
  • Have you gone through something similar?
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24 Comments

  1. January 19, 2017 / 5:08 am

    Oh girl I love this message! I think too often people want to change themselves for the wrong reasons instead of the right ones. What a great reminder!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…2017 New Year New GoalsMy Profile

  2. January 19, 2017 / 5:32 am

    Right now, I am doing my best to live in the moment. I can’t workout, I am covered in a rash, but I am also working towards something so much greater. Do I wish that I had more muscle? Sure. But I am so proud of my body for getting to the point that it is at right now.
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Yoshi is In Play + Random from the IVF TrailMy Profile

  3. January 19, 2017 / 8:07 am

    I am trying to get better at living in the moment. When I feel like time is passing too quickly, I try to breathe in and out and focus on what is going on around me. Sounds hippity dippity but it does help me to enjoy or witness what is going on. You look great!

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:02 pm

      No that’s totally awesome. I do that too sometimes to just slow down and sit in right now.

  4. January 19, 2017 / 8:42 am

    This is something I’ve been trying to work on with myself. I look back at photos of me from 1-, 2-, 5- years ago, when I wasn’t happy with how I looked, and see how I was healthy and my weight was normal for my body type. I look at those photos and get sad thinking about how I wish I could have been 100% happy, live more in the moment, and worry less about appearances. Thank you for sharing this post, it was just what I needed!
    Sara @ Oats & Rows recently posted…A weekend at my new home away from homeMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:02 pm

      Right?? Let’s just be happy all the time!

  5. January 19, 2017 / 9:25 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I’m finally at a point to not delete all of the pictures taken of me – so that’s good. However, I’m very critical and self-conscious, and rarely an hour goes by without me thinking of what I could change, how I could mange not to give into my food-desire, how I wish to finally get to the body I would be happy in….
    Tanja recently posted…Obstacle CourseMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:02 pm

      Love tanja! She needs it!

  6. January 19, 2017 / 9:42 am

    Perspective is so huge; I used to really hate my body after I recovered, but now I’m so thankful for all the things it can do by God’s grace, and that it’s healthy and not as weak and tired as it was.

    I love how your view of your body has changed so much Erin. And I totally agree that a lot of my changed views have changed especially at that breaking point.
    Emily recently posted…Why I’m Learning to Embrace Being SingleMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:03 pm

      Yeah it takes a big shift like that for me to finally change

  7. January 19, 2017 / 3:14 pm

    I just read your article and I absolutely loved it, very well written, very well described. It’s terribly unfortunate that we are never happy about who/how we are in the present, always looking for a little something to improve in a future that we constantly postpone as we set ourselves new goals all the time. I clearly need to take lessons from what you said i.e. (re?)learn how to enjoy the present and accept myself as I am, with all my imperfections, and focus on doing my best instead of looking for the perfect me (I’m already perfect, right? hehe!). Anyway, thanks a lot for this great article, exactly what I needed right now. Oh, and I really need to answer you regarding the training sessions by the way, I’m heading to France right now but I don’t forget you! ps: and by the way, you look great on the two pictures actually (love the one on the beach, though)!
    Del’s cooking twist recently posted…Roasted Lemon Cauliflower & Halloumi Pita Pockets with a Vegan AioliMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:03 pm

      Aw thanks girl! Omg have so much fun in France!!

  8. January 19, 2017 / 6:00 pm

    This is a great post! I have been working on this myself for years and it is so hard when youre conditioned to think about yourself in a certain negative way! Im learning now especially that I’m pregnant, to embrace the changes and to try and think of positives first!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…10 Random Thoughts #2My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:16 pm

      A lot of people I know finally get some self acceptance once they’re pregnant and realize how awesome it is to just be able to create another human being!

  9. January 19, 2017 / 8:03 pm

    I am currently working on embracing my current stronger body as opposed to me sick, way too skinny unhealthy body I had 6 months ago. Some days my body image is very bad and those are the days that I have to work extra hard to remind myself that I am thankful for my body, and proud of the strength I have gained. I think shifting perspective is so huge to overcoming body image and any other form of negative self talk. And girl, you look so awesome in that pic! Crazy strong!

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:16 pm

      It can be so tough to change how we see ourselves – especially in the mirror. Keep up the good work girl!

  10. January 19, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    First, you DO look strong and incredible in that handstand picture.
    Second, I’ve been in this same position before. When I was at my thinnest (with a regular Bikram practice and lots of walking), I never quite felt like my body was good enough. Toward the end of that period, though, I began to see that health was so much more than how my body looked and I was finally comfortable in my skin. (And then I got knocked up and gained 34 lbs, haha). Negative body image is so entrenched in our society and it sucks.
    Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine recently posted…What I Won’t Do in 2017My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Totally! It can be so hard to break those patterns!

  11. January 19, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    It makes me so happy how you saw your strength in that picture. Because you are SO strong. You inspire me lots with your journey!
    Alyssa recently posted…A Change of Pace this SemesterMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Aw thank you Alyssa!

  12. January 20, 2017 / 4:34 am

    OMG I think about this all.the.time and have the same reaction to older pictures. I usually always look back and think “wow I look so strong, good, healthy, fast…” whatever but, did I think it at the time the picture was taken? Nope! I do try to stay present and be grateful but some days it’s so hard not to pick yourself apart. Thank you for this – it’s SO important!
    Allie recently posted…What “They” Say You Should Do vs RealityMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 26, 2017 / 4:18 pm

      Thanks for reading girl! I can think of so many times that I look backwards and realize I was just fine but at the time always wished for something more or something I wasn’t. So frustrating!

  13. January 24, 2017 / 11:37 am

    I’ve been in this exact same situation.
    I honestly feel like I’m more accepting of my body now at my highest weight, than I was at my lowest weight.
    Do I want to change things? SURE. But I’m not about to shame myself, or treat myself poorly just to meet some arbitrary standard of size.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Goodbye Grocery Shopping Hello Hello Fresh!My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      January 27, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      You go girl.

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